Highlights from four mixologist's quest to compete with original cocktails themed with Hong Kong ingredients

On November 15, cocktail lovers gathered at Red Sugar of The Kerry Hotel for Tatler Dining's inaugural Battle of the Bartenders series, where four of the city's most celebrated bartenders have each randomly picked an ingredient that represents Hong Kong, namely Pu-erh tea, Sugarcane, Roselle, and Mandarin Peel. Throughout the night guests were offered each cocktail and encouraged to share their favorite on social media channels, as the most featured cocktail wins the battle.

Having picked pu-erh tea as his key ingredient for the battle, Red Sugar's very own mixologist Joe Villaneuva not only played with the aged fermented black tea in the cocktail, but also on its presentation using a dark teapot and traditional Chinese teacups.


Blossom Negroni, Joe Villaneuva's Pu-erh tea-inspired cocktail is the strongest drink among other participating cocktails in the battle. The earthy pu-erh tea is enhanced by Chinese baijiu and Italian bitter liqueur. A touch of osmanthus wine gives the cocktail a floral finish. 


From one of the most popular bars in the city, Himson Lam of Dr.Fern's Gin Parlour is demonstrating his prowess with some serious moves with the cocktail shaker throughout the night. His sugarcane-inspired cocktail builds on sugarcane's refreshing sweetness by adding demerara syrup and a touch of lemon. 

Titled Dr. Collin, Himson Lam's gin-based cocktail blends Bull Dog gin with the juice of fresh sugarcane, his signature ingredient. A touch of lemon juice lightens the sweetness, while Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic gives it extra body. 


 Aged mandarin peel was somewhat a novelty for Employees Only's top barman Owen Gibler. Known for his freestyle cocktail creations, Gibler experimented with the rehydrated mandarin peel with many other ingredients before returning to using citrus as the key base for his cocktail.

Inspired by dried mandarin peel, the seasonal ingredient of autumn, Owen Gibler added a double-dose of mandarin in his creation for the bar battle. The 10-year aged mandarin peel brings an earthy touch to the drink, adding richness and building depth in this rum-based cocktail. The dusted pineapple cube adds a touch of gold to the beverage itself, as one of the night's most photogenic cocktail was born. 


Presenting his creation using locally grown roselle blossoms, and ingredient he has never used in cocktails before.  Agung Prabowo of The Old Man created a cocktail which is packed with flavours, from distilled fish sauce rice wine for a savoury edge, to roselle shrub for sweetness and tartness, rounded out with bourbon and salted carbonated water, the new creation, simple with the name #Roselle, is unique in its taste. 

According to Agung himself, pairing roselle with cocktails is not an easy task. The locally-grown flower bears natural tartness and a slight bitter edge to it. Creating a shrub highlighted the roselle's acidity, allowing the sharpness to come through in a bourbon-based cocktail. Essentially it is one of the favorites of the night, and with the most shared cocktail on social media, which garnered Agung Prabowo of The Old Man the winner of this year's T.Dining Battle of the Bartenders.

Congratulations to @hurtingbombz and @ms_o_lifestyle_ophelia for winning our social media contest on Battle of the Bartenders during Tatler Dining Week 2017. Thank you for joining us in a celebration of Hong Kong-inspired innovative cocktails. Special thanks to participating bars and the Kerry Hotel for support. 



© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.